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Literature / Spock's World

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Spock's World is a 1988 Star Trek novel by Diane Duane.

The Enterprise crew's shore leave is interrupted when Kirk, Spock, and McCoy receive an invitation to speak at a referendum. The topic? Whether or not Vulcan should secede from the Federation. As the trio make their way through the discussions, they encounter prejudice and secrets and an old enemy makes a surprising return. Can even the crew of the Enterprise keep Vulcan from withdrawing?

In addition to this, there is a side plot about the history of Vulcan, climaxing with the marriage of Sarek and Amanda and the birth of Spock.


Spock's World contains examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted with Moira. She is sometimes snarky, but she doesn't hurt anyone, and even helps McCoy uncover useful information about the conspiracy.
  • Alien Sky: Sarek finds Earth's tiny, silvery moon a bizarre spectacle that helps him come to terms with the idea that he's really on another planet. The moon — sorry, sister planet — that Sarek is used to seeing in the sky is a volcano-covered beast that takes up a third of the horizon, by the way. Our itty-bitty moon looks somewhat pathetic by comparison in his opinion.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Selv answers McCoy's argument accusing the secession movement of wanting to rip open healing wounds by saying that the Vulcans can bind their own wounds and it doesn't matter about the other planets. McCoy promptly quotes one of Surak's proverbs equating another's wounds with one's own. While it's unknown whether this affected Selv, it does considerably undermine him to other Vulcans.
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  • Author Appeal: As is standard for Duane's Trek novels, McCoy's sheer awesome is down to the good doctor being the author's all-time favorite.
  • Best Served Cold: The revenge planned by T'Pring. Even Spock admires it for its "flawless logic" and efficiency.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Thinking he was having a heart attack, Amanda once started doing chest compressions on Sarek. He amusedly informed her that she was pressing on his liver.
  • Black Comedy: At the beginning of his speech, Kirk references his near-death in "Amok Time" by saying that "those of you who know the circumstances under which [he] left [Vulcan would] guess [he] was rather glad to get away again."
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: McCoy insists on calling his hacking "borrowing" rather than "stealing."
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation:
    • McCoy calls a Vulcan, Selv, out on his poor translation of the human documents he is using to support his prejudiced claims.
    An Andorian spirit dancer using a Ouiji board could do a better job. Though I must say I enjoyed your article on the evolution of blood sacrifice in Earth culture. That is not what major-league football is for...
    • Also brought up in the other direction. It is revealed that the "logic" Vulcans have always gone on about in the series is a bad translation of the Vulcan concept of "reality-truth", which means seeing the universe as it is, not as you would like it to be.
  • Bridge Bunnies: Subverted with Uhura. When Kirk casually asks her about how one of her dissertations is shaping up, she launches into a head-spinningly complex discussion of alien syntaxes, translation algorithms, and xenolinguistics that leaves Kirk utterly in the dust, privately ashamed for ever thinking that Uhura's job was some kind of glorified switchboard operator.
  • Bus Crash: Stonn died in between this book and said character's last appearance due to a hormonal imbalance invoked to recapture a mate's attention.
  • Call-Back: The events of "Amok Time" receive multiple references throughout the story. As it turns out, there's a good reason for this.
  • Category Traitor: McCoy employs this a good deal, reminding the Vulcans at every turn that their planetary hero, Surak, taught "infinite diversity in infinite combinations."
  • The Conspiracy: A group of Vulcans have been stirring up the planet to secession.
  • Continuity Nod: Naraht, the Enterprise's only Horta crew member, is a walking nod to "The Devil in the Dark."
  • Crapsack World: Vulcan was definitely this before Surak's reforms, as the historical chapters show.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Surak. While the history takes pain to note Surak was a normal Vulcan child growing up into a normal adult, his Heroic BSoD that drives him into the desert shares a lot with the tribulations of Jesus and Buddha.
  • Deadpan Snarker: McCoy, as usual.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Ruin T'Pring's happiness with Stonn by driving her beloved to suicide? She'll force the entire planet to vote to secede from the Federation, which would either send Spock and his family into exile or else trap Spock on Vulcan forever, ending his heroic and legendary trek to the stars. It doesn't help that, much like the Misplaced Retribution trope spells out, T'Pring is more responsible for what happened to Stonn than Spock is.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: the Big Bad has this reaction toward McCoy at the book's conclusion. He retorts that he's got no time for pity and that the Big Bad needs to pull herself together.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • T'Thelaih, who's been struggling with suicidal thoughts from her introduction, finally kills herself after purposefully using her deadly Psychic Powers for the first time to avenge her husband.
    • Stonn. Convinced somehow that Spock won after the events of "Amok Time", he undergoes a hormonal treatment to induce plak'tow to mate with T'Pring. It goes horribly wrong.
  • Dropping the Bombshell:
    • McCoy's question at the end of Sarek's discourse: "What do[es the government] think of the scheme to sell off formerly Federation-owned property on Vulcan, after the secession, to secret buyers with strong anti-Federation leanings, who have already made substantial payoffs to Vulcan officials to ensure that the property will be sold to them at 'lowest bid' before anyone else hears of it?"
    • Followed seconds later by another such line. Sarek says that the government can't respond to that scheme without seeing solid evidence of it, and McCoy says, "Sir, I await your convenience." The author describes the reaction thusly: "And the room went mad."
  • Dying Moment of Awesome:
    • Surak. He knew his movement for Logical pacifism would lead to his death. But he also knew that his years of living out that path would build a better peaceful Vulcan that would survive him. "Much could be done, with a death..."
    • T'Pau, who times her death with the revelation of the bribery scandal to make it seem the news had killed her, knowing it would shame the planet into rejecting the secession vote. Also, allowing her katra - her spirit/memory - to pass into human Amanda Greyson, which meant that if the secession vote succeeded the katra of the Surak bloodline would be forced off Vulcan.
  • Empty Promise: Kirk wants to tell T'Pau that they're not going to die, but he feels as though the sheer blatant falsehood of it would be insulting.
  • Evil Gloating: the Big Bad rubs it in Spock's face when it looks like Vulcan will actually secede.
  • Fantastic Racism: Many Vulcans think humans are little more than dangerous, disgusting animals.
  • Fantastic Slur: The Vulcan insult tviokh... which actually means "neighbor" note  and predates Vulcan contact with aliens by a great deal.
  • First Contact: We learn the history of the Vulcans' First Contact during the Surak backstory chapter. To say it went poorly is an understatement - it was with the predecessors of the Orion Pirates, introduced the concept of xenophobia to the Vulcans, and triggered a fifty year long war against those pirates as well as the split between the Vulcans and the Rihannsu.
  • Genetic Memory: McCoy takes an RNA 'language course', which makes him better even than the universal translator at understanding and speaking Vulcan.
  • Go and Sin No More: Kirk and McCoy tell the Big Bad to get back out of prison and do some good with that intelligence.
  • Go-to-Sleep Ending: In the last chapter, Kirk, after he and his crew have successfully kept Vulcan from seceding, wraps things up with Moira (who was instrumental in the process) and goes to take a well-deserved night's sleep.
  • Gut Feeling: Vulcans have a word "nehau" which roughly translates to "vibes." The "nehau" that one picks up from someone is usually accurate.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Kirk argues that Spock should be given the opportunity to prove himself and not be rejected for his ancestry or possible "bad influence" from his mother.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Spock's conception is discussed.
  • Have You Come to Gloat?: The Big Bad T'Pring asks Spock if he has the desire to mock the Big Bad for slipping logic. Spock answers, "If that was my thought, there is nothing in it to do me ill credit." But he doesn't.
  • Holding the Floor: McCoy gives a speech denouncing the calls for Vulcan secession. His speech is met with a standing ovation.
  • Hollywood Provincialism: An hilariously odd variant. In a description of Vulcan- "Jim tended to think of it as southern California, but with less rain." note 
  • Inside a Computer System: The novel has several historical interludes. In one, a member of a pre-Reformation Vulcan family-ship crew spends considerable time participating in the mind-nets, a telepathic/computer net virtual reality. When a mutiny on board ship sends it on an uncontrollable course, she retreats into the mind-nets until the ship is destroyed.
  • Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: Spock added a "personality" to Moira, but nobody expected her to "wake up."
  • Jerk In Sheeps Clothing: the Big Bad may have seemed like a Jerkass Woobie when they first appeared. However, the book reveals said character as this.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: T'Pring surpisingly won their last conflict with the Enterprise crew, but they don't know when to quit. Trying to talk Vulcan into secession to hurt Spock over a mate's death leads to their nastier side being revealed to the entire planet and their being taken into custody.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Taken with the Big Bad's last appearance, this applies to said character. The Big Bad got what was supposedly said character's goal the last time. However, the Big Bad reveals that the same began brooding over things not going precisely according to plan. The Big Bad ultimately loses mate, remaining good name, and freedom.
  • Landmark Sale: McCoy offers to sell Spock a bridge "with a great view of Brooklyn" after revealing that T'Pring hadn't been honest about just how much money was required to set up the referendum.
  • Little Green Men: after Amanda marries Sarek, she responds to a tabloid running the headline "I Married a Little Green Man" with the retort, "There is nothing little about my husband."
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Comes up often during the historical tales about how Vulcan came to be. Becomes important when the Big Bad reveals her motivation, that T'Pring is using the secession vote to hurt Spock over what happened to Stonn...
  • The Needs of the Many: a Vulcan drags this up during Kirk's discourse. The captain, of course, doesn't buy it and turns it around on him by arguing that just because there are more people doesn't mean their needs are more important and that in any case, the "many" is composed of numerous "ones" who must accept responsibility for what the "many" is doing.
  • Manipulative Bastard: the Big Bad, T'Pring, who cunningly stirs up the anti-human attitudes on the planet using nothing more than words and the small estate left by the spoilered character's mate.
  • Marriage Before Romance: T'Thelaih and Mahak... although the people who arranged it not only didn't care about their feelings, they were expecting and even hoping that she would kill him with her Psychic Powers.
  • Misplaced Retribution: The Big Bad T'Pring is doing this to punish Spock for a death in the family...except it's hard to see how he is responsible. Spock considers pointing out how T'Pring was more to blame for Stonn's fall, but he can't bring himself to say it.
  • Motive Rant: the Big Bad gives a calm speech to Spock about how he was responsible for the death of said character's mate and said character "not hav[ing their] desire", and therefore the Big Bad is going to force him into a sadistic choice.
  • Mundane Utility: Spock came up with the method of storing non-essential food and drink for long space voyages by keeping their patterns in the transporter buffer.
  • Never My Fault: The Big Bad T'Pring blames Spock for said character's lover taking a suicidal risk to get close to them after believing their brooding over Spock was romantic. After the events of "Amok Time", she slowly began to brood about how things had not gone according to plan. Stonn grew jealous and artificially induced plak tow in himself to make their bonding 'real'. When he died, T'Pring decided it was Spock's fault.
  • Not So Stoic: The entire Vulcan race. The race's Hat of being driven by logic is thoroughly deconstructed in this novel, not only with the historical chapters but with the present day chapters where T'Pring's plot and the latent racism of the secessionist movement prove that Vulcans as a whole are just as hypocritical as every other species. It proves to be a major plot point when McCoy uncovers the bribery/kickbacks scheme behind the secessionist movement. Because everyone else viewed the Vulcan race as above suspicion, no one else - Spock and Sarek included - noticed... except for the good Doctor...
  • Oh, Crap!: McCoy gets a huge one when during his research into the groups behind the secession movement, he spots a name that stuns him, and keeps finding it...T'Pring.
  • Our Phlebotinum Child: Sarek and Amanda had to rely on Vulcan science to create Spock, owing to the difference in their biologies.
  • Outside/Inside Slur: When a Vulcan points out that Spock is halfblood, Kirk spends a good few words drawing out his real meaning — namely, that because Spock is a halfblood, he's "a fake Earth person", not a Vulcan.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Several, of the Fantastic Racism variety.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Stonn's death caused said character's mate to think that "[they] did not have [their] desire" and set out to destroy Spock.
  • Pulled from Your Day Off: The Ent-Nil crew are yanked from shore leave when Vulcan decides to discuss secession.
  • Recurring Character:
    • Sarek, Amanda, T'Pau and T'Pring all appear again.
    • The spider scientist K's't'lk from Duane's earlier novel The Wounded Sky makes a cameo during the secession debate. She bites one arrogant Vulcan secessionist's leg to prove a point.
  • The Reveal: Spock's former betrothed, T'Pring, is trying to drive the planet to secession.
  • Revenge: It seems to be the motivation of the Big Bad, T'Pring.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • T'Thelaih mentally kills everyone in the house where she's being held captive after her husband is killed.
    • Played with concerning the Big Bad. Modern-day Vulcans do not rampage, but T'Pring's revenge is so epic in scope - trick an entire planet to secede just to piss off her ex-husband Spock - it makes Human-driven roaring rampages pale in comparison. The exact Vulcan concept of revenge the Big Bad follows is called ashv'cezh, literally, revenge worse than death, and Spock mentally comments that simple death is a mercy if compared to ashv'cezh.
  • Sadistic Choice: The Big Bad hopes to force Spock into this. If the planet secedes, he will be forced to choose between his friends on the Enterprise and his planet.
  • Sequel Episode: The novel is a sequel to "Amok Time."
  • Side Bet: Apparently, Spock and McCoy had one on the outcome of the vote on secession. Spock won.
  • Silver Fox: The silver-haired Amanda is described as being even lovelier than before.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss:
    • A young (pre-Surak) Vulcan couple. They begin too look forward to their arranged marriage when they realize, by living together, they can argue uninterrupted by curfews.
    • Parts of Sarek and Amanda's courtship followed this pattern, albeit playfully more than seriously.
  • Solar Flare Disaster: A massive prehistoric flare transformed Vulcan from a verdant planet with extensive forests into the familiar desert planet of the present. Solar instability continued until the time of the Reformation, and Vulcans constructed massive refuges against sunstorm weather. The secession debate takes place in one of these, repurposed as a grand auditorium for the Vulcan Science Academy.
  • Subspace Ansible: The book tells the history of the planet Vulcan, and points out that since Vulcans are psychic to varying extents and telepathy is assumed to be instantaneous, telepathy was their first subspace FTL communication. The limiting factor is that only a small minority of Vulcans are strong enough telepaths for this to be practical.
  • Thanatos Gambit: McCoy theorizes that T'Pau pulled this, given that she passed on her katra to Amanda and that the spoiled character made it clear to the newspapers that said character had heard about the plot before dying.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: T'Pau, who last appeared as an antagonist, returns as an ally.
    • Sarek is shown to be far more personable than in the show.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: in addition to the plot about the possible secession of Vulcan, there is a second plot about Vulcan history, which winds up with the story of Sarek and Amanda's courtship, marriage, and the birth of Spock.
  • Two out of Three Ain't Bad: When a Vulcan asks about Kirk's readiness, for the referendum, the Captain answers, "Ready, willing, and able." McCoy mutters, "At least two out of three ain't bad."
  • Understatement: Kirk's comment on his last visit to Vulcan: "Being strangled with an ahn-woon can ruin your whole day."
  • Vengeful Widow: T'Theliah murders her captors with her Psychic Powers after one of them kills her husband.
    • T'Pring reveals this as the backstory for their actions.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: the Big Bad, T'Pring, until McCoy uncovers the plot and Sarek has the truth sent to the media.
  • Wacky Cravings: While pregnant, Amanda found herself wanting to eat only pickles. This annoyed her because of its cliche nature, but Sarek took it in stride, the closest he comes to complaining is merely taking note of the cost of shipping pickles from Earth to Vulcan.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Discussed by McCoy when talking to the Big Bad at the end. He even mentions Spock's comment to the same effect.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Moira argues that the "intelligence" of humans or machines is all just atoms. Kirk doesn't seem to mind having a sentient computer onboard, but he knows Starfleet might pull such a computer's plugs, so he orders Moira to keep it secret.
  • Woman Scorned: T'Pring, pissed at Spock for ruining her gambit during "Amok Time". Lampshaded by Kirk when McCoy tells him T'Pring's name keeps cropping up in the various secession groups.


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